State Trapping-Education Task Force meets Friday

A task force of trappers and wildlife officials will resume work Friday in Polson to produce the state’s newly required trapping education program.

The state’s legislative action last year, Senate Bill 60, required the program to take effect March 1. Primarily, new trappers and those with fewer than three state-licensed trapping seasons are required to take the course. It will also encompass state-required wolf trapping certification.

Classes will include trapping ethics, best practices, equipment, regulations and avoidance of trapping non-target species, according to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

“The primary objective of the trapper education program is to impart the knowledge and skills necessary to be an ethical, humane, responsible, legal and safe trapper,” the department said in a recent statement.

At Polson, the task force developing the program is made up of three trappers — two from the Montana Trappers Association and one from Montana Fur Harvesters — and three FWP staff. Friday’s meeting will be their fourth, all held at Polson.

Wayde Cooperider, FWP’s outdoor skills and safety supervisor and group facilitator, said the panel was working to get the program up and running by the end of the summer.

“The Fur Harvesters, Montana Trappers Association and FWP have come together to create a much needed program; we’re all very excited about it,” Cooperider said. “I was very excited about the hard work of this group.”

Montana’s many furbearer seasons – which include beaver, bobcat, otter, swift fox, fisher, marten and others – largely begin in November with varying end dates through May .

Cooperider said the group focused on submitting the online component of the education requirement for web posting. The program also includes a mandatory field day.

“So they would take our online classes, for example, pass that, and then sign up for one of our field days,” Cooperider said. “That’s where we come by, do the hands-on activities, show them the different traps and types of traps, and sets and types of sets – ways to be safe.”

On Friday, Cooperider said the group will run through an early draft of its field presentations, which are expected to cover most of the meeting.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Friday at Polson at the Red Lion Inn and Suites, 209 Ridgewater Drive.

The public is invited to attend. A public comment period on agenda items will be scheduled towards the end of the meeting. FWP is now looking for volunteers to help teach the program.

Reporter John McLaughlin can be reached at 758-4439 or [email protected]

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